Are you sure your content is right for your target audience? Or any audience for that matter? If you’re here, reading this, then you might have some doubts.
Ask yourself this – does your content do any of the following:
- Tell a story
- Provide solutions
- Create an experience
According to the research by Meaningful Brands, 84% of people expect that from the content they consume. So, if you aren’t offering any of the above, guess what 84% think of your content… Very little, probably.
Here’s another question – does your content provide meaningful information on your products? Because 70% of internet users want to learn about products through content versus traditional advertisements. Here’s an example of what NOT to do – if your product is a piece of software, don’t create a page that just lists all the features in bullets. It’s boring. It’s not helpful to anyone.
So, let’s assume that your content doesn’t quite connect with your audience. I’m currently working on a checklist that’ll help you assess why this is happening, but for now, let’s take a look at a few quick and dirty content marketing tips that’ll (hopefully) help you write for your target audience.
Let’s dive right in:
Tip #1: Know Your Audience
Yes, you probably have a pretty good idea who you’re writing for. For instance, if your product is an ERP software solution for midsized retailers, you’re probably writing for the people in charge of retail chains.
But, who is this supposed retail chain owner or general manager, really? Is it a man or a woman? Are they married? How old are they? What are their daily responsibilities? What content do they consume and how? Do they have a social media profile? The list goes on.
Here’s how you might be doing this wrong. Let’s say your retail chain owner is a man named Joe – an old-fashioned late baby boomer who doesn’t really read a lot of stuff on the internet, unlike, say, millennials. Your distribution channel for guys like that then is likely email marketing, not Google or social media (though don’t discard either).
What does that mean for your content? That means it needs to stand out in such a way that it appeals to Joe and his counterparts, who only gain access to your content via email marketing. Attaching a name of a well-known industry expert to your content can be one way to break the barrier. But – you need to do your research on this one to find the solution that fits your business and industry.
Why am I bringing up Joe? Because people like Joe dictate how you should approach your content. If your content is not written with Joe in mind, he won’t read it.
My recommendation is creating a buyer persona for each prospect group you’re targeting. Persona details should include the following:
- Job title
- Key responsibilities
- Personality traits
This will allow you to keep your prospective reader in mind every time you sit down to write. I’ll take a deeper dive into buyer personas in a future blog post, but in the meantime, check out this resource.
Tip #2: Be Relevant
Once you know who you’re writing for, you need to create content that addresses your audience’s specific pain points. Ask yourself – what drives them to consume your content? Nobody searches for topics like “How to Use X to Manage Y” for no reason.
Now, a single person in your target audience may do a lot of research on all kinds of things, but most of the time, they WILL NOT end up consuming your content. For example, if you don’t provide medical advice – because you’re in the automotive industry – they won’t come to you to resolve their back pains.
That said, they may not come to you even if YOU ARE providing content within your realm of expertise. Why? Because there may be other more popular sources of that expertise. For example, if you’re in the automotive industry, you have to compete with other automotive publications.
So, how do you stand out? Don’t do what they do. Take a good look at your business and figure out what makes customers come to you. What specific problems are you solving? How are you solving them? Those are the same reasons that should be driving people to your content.
For instance, if your product provides people with accurate car pricing data, then perhaps your content should be about explaining why car pricing data is useful and how to take advantage of it.
Whatever your niche is, stick to it – until you grow a following.
Tip #3: Be Accurate
The internet makes fact-checking easy, which means that it won’t be hard for your audience to figure out that you’re wrong (if that’s indeed the case). However, even if there’s not a lot of information available on the topic you’re covering – DON’T make things up. People WILL KNOW.
Poorly-researched content doesn’t just turn people off your content, it damages your company’s reputation. If you’re trying to position yourself as a thought leader, there’s no quicker way to discredit yourself than by publishing wrong information.
Companies don’t always hire industry experts to write content for them, and it’s okay if you are not an expert in your industry. However, that doesn’t mean that you can’t become an expert through research.
The best way to create accurate, insightful content is by interviewing a real industry expert. It could be one of the following:
- Industry consultant/speaker. Good consultants tend to be well-recognized within their industry. To get in touch with consultants, your best bet is to engage with their content. Cite them in your blog, comment on their social media channels and share their content on yours. You can then contact them with a partnership proposal that’ll benefit both sides.
- Successful businesses/customers. If you are in the B2B space, you can interview a string of successful businesses (who are hopefully your customers) and then implement their advice in your content, citing their success. This wouldn’t just lend credence to your content, but also make it more relatable to your readers, who are in the same business.
Tip #4: Be Personable, Clear & “Selfless”
You know what people don’t like reading? Boring, aimless and self-congratulatory content. Here’s an example of what I mean:
“I’m an experienced content writer with over 5 years of experience across a wide variety of businesses in B2C and B2B markets. I produce top-quality blog posts, press releases, whitepapers, eBooks, case studies, videos and web copy. I also have extensive experience with SEO, influencer marketing and social media management.”
This is an accurate description of my experience, but it’s severely lacking in personality. It’s also entirely self-centered and devoid of direction. What should the reader do after reading this? Contact me? Look up my samples? It’s not clear.
Many businesses tend to talk a lot about themselves in this manner, but they rarely touch on the specific needs of their customers or direct them anywhere. They just sort of brag. If you’re guilty if this, it’s okay – we all are to some extent!
So, how would you make something like this a little more personable and helpful? Here’s an example:
“Do you need an experienced content creator for your B2C or B2B business? Tired of content writers who are good at one type of content, but are totally inept at another? Look no further; I produce all kinds of content – from blog posts to video case studies and beyond. This is my jam. Don’t believe me? Check out my samples.”
What does the above paragraph do differently? Well, a few key things:
- It’s a lot more informal and playful
- It’s more focused on the reader’s needs
- It’s clearer about its intentions (specifically, the link at the end)
No matter what you’re writing – whether it’s a blog post, eBook or company description – always focus on the reader, be more conversational and provide a sense of direction. Keep your readers hooked until the next step – and provide them with that step.
Tip #5: Chunk Your Content
This relates to the idea of keeping your readers hooked. Thanks to the internet, our attention spans have gone haywire. It’s not just you – it’s also me and many people around you.
The best way to keep the modern online reader engaged is to ensure your content is easy to read. After all, the people visiting your website are not there to “read” – they are there for information. So, the easier you make it for them to obtain in it, the better.
To get there, use of the following:
- Headings. If your piece of content is getting a little long (1,000 words or longer), consider breaking it into sections using headings, as I have done in this article. My rule of thumb is five to seven heading per 1,000 words, but it’s definitely not a hard rule and will depend on what you’re writing.
- Short paragraphs. A wall of text that goes on and on without a singly paragraph break is a pain to read. It’s the fastest way to get people to just skip what you have to say entirely – no matter how insightful you may be. So, break that up. My limit is four to five lines before I hit Enter.
- Bullets. If you decide to list something, bullets are usually much more effective. They are also effective in scenarios like this one – where you list something and then explain what it is. Just be sure to stick to the “short paragraph rule” I mentioned above.
- Simple words. Don’t flip through your thesaurus to find that one, smart-sounding word. Chances are you’ll misuse it and confuse your readers. Avoid industry jargon (unless you know for sure your readers will understand it) and any words that are not commonly used in day-to-day conversations. Keep it simple.
Need Help with Your Content?
Here comes the mandatory “hard sell.”
If you don’t have anyone qualified helping you with your content, but need it badly, take a look at my samples and maybe we can arrange a chat. If not, feel free to browse through my website all the same. Thanks for reading!